China Seminar 28 Feb: Maghiel van Crevel: Misfit: the Poetry of Xu Lizhi


Maghiel van Crevel

Battlers poetry 打工诗歌 is writing by members of the Chinese precariat, specifically the underclass of domestic migrants who have flocked from the countryside to the cities in the hundreds of millions since the 1980s. The hardships and the social injustice of migrant worker life are among its most prominent themes: dehumanizing labor conditions, feelings of displacement, nostalgia, and existential alienation, a vulnerable status as non-citizens without the coveted urban household registration and steady work, and so on. Since the 2000s, the web and social media have given it tremendous exposure, trickling beyond China’s borders in recent years.

So what kind of writing is this, and what does it do? The poetry of Xu Lizhi 许立志, who has been a figurehead of the genre ever since his suicide in 2014, offers powerful material for tackling these questions—which have often been framed in an easy opposition of social significance (high) and literary value (low) that might just not be the whole story.

Bio: Maghiel van Crevel is professor of Chinese at Leiden University, and the author, editor, and translator of a dozen books. He has recently published Walk on the Wild Side: Snapshots of the Chinese Poetry Scene,” a long essay inspired by fieldwork in China in 2016-2017.


The time slot for the China Seminar is always 15.15-17.00. The titles and abstracts will be distributed in due time.

Location: Leiden University, Faculty of Humanities. The Lipsius building is located at Cleveringaplaats 1.


Dates Venue Presenter Affiliation
28 February 2018 LIPSIUS 235 Maghiel van Crevel Leiden University
7 March 2018 LIPSIUS 235 Griet Vankeerberghen McGill University
28 March 2018 LIPSIUS 235 Monica Klasing Chen Leiden University
11 April 2018 LIPSIUS 235 Carolien Rieffe Leiden University
18 April 2018 t.b.d. Yu-chih Lai Academia Sinica
2 May 2018 LIPSIUS 235 Lin Fan Leiden University
23 May 2018 LIPSIUS 235 Limin Teh Leiden University